Frequently Asked Questions About Real Estate Transactions

Table of Contents

 

What do I do after I sign the contract?

If a realtor prepared your contract, it will contain an attorney review clause. This clause will give you three business days after the contract is signed to review it with your attorney. If your attorney disapproves of any part of the contract, the contract is broken until the other party agrees to the changes or a compromise is negotiated.

 

Back to top

What happens after the contract is fully approved by both seller and buyer?

If you are a buyer, after attorney review is over you must make your additional deposit. Additionally you must arrange for all your inspections. The law firm does not arrange any of the inspections. However the law firm does recommend that you arrange the following inspections: home, termite, radon, oil tank, lead paint, and septic and well if your property is not serviced by city sewer or water. The law firm does not recommend any particular inspection firm. However whomever you select to perform the inspections, you must advise them that they need to perform the inspection and complete and deliver the report no later than 10 days after attorney review. In addition to arranging the inspections, you must immediately apply for your mortgage.

 

Back to top

What if the inspections uncover defects?

You must keep in mind that you are probably not purchasing a new home. The inspector will report some defects. You must review the reports and the law firm in writing, which defects you wish to require the seller to repair. The law firm will attempt to negotiate the requested repairs or a reduction in purchase price. You must keep in mind that the inspections are not an opportunity to renegotiate the price of the property.  If no agreement is reached with regard to the inspections, the contract will be cancelled and your deposit will be returned.

 

Back to top

What if I do not obtain a mortgage?

Your contract contains a mortgage contingency clause. This clause is for a stated amount. It is important that you not apply for more than the amount stated in the contract. You generally will have 45 days to obtain a mortgage. If after 45 days your contract will generally provide that either party may cancel the contract and have the deposit returned. If you are a buyer, you have a duty and may have to prove that you were diligent in your attempt to obtain a mortgage.

 

Back to top

What is a mortgage commitment?

Once you have obtained a mortgage, the lender issues a mortgage commitment. This is the contract between you and the lender. It is important for you to read the commitment in its entirety. If there is any part of the commitment that you do not understand, contact the law firm. Unfortunately, generally the commitment is not negotiable. Additionally the commitment will no doubt contain a number of conditions. You must satisfy these. The lender does not and will not set up a closing until you satisfy these conditions.

 

Back to top

What does my lender require?

In addition to the conditions attached to your commitment, you lender will require a number of other items. The following is a breakdown of who provides what.

Law Firm

Title search, survey (without stakes) judgment search, approved attorney letter

Client

Hazard insurance policy and paid receipt for one year, in the amount of at least the amount of the loan.

Flood insurance, if necessary.

All insurance policies must contain a mortgagee clause. The language of this clause is contained in your mortgage commitment.

Real Estate Broker

If there is a broker involved, generally the broker will obtain a certificate of occupancy, smoke detector certification and/or resale certificate. If there is no broker, these items must be obtained by the client.

Additionally you want your broker to arrange a final walk through just prior to the closing.

 

Back to top

What role does the Real Estate Agent play after I sign the contract?

If a real estate agent negotiated your purchase, you should insist the agent continue to have an active role after the contract is fully signed. Advise the broker you expect the broker to continue to negotiate any differences that may arise between you and the seller. This includes, but not limited to, home inspection issues, coordinating a mutually convenient closing date, and negotiating your possible early occupation of your new home, commonly called a  “use and occupancy agreement”.

 

Back to top

What clauses should be contained in the contract?

Of course the Law Firm will review your contract to ensure that it contains all the appropriate clauses. However you should make sure that the broker includes in the broker drafted contract, all clauses and conditions you fell are necessary and important to you. For instance if you must sell an existing home as a condition of buying your new home, it is imperative that your broker include that in the initial form of contract, so that the seller knows early that you require such a condition and does not find out for the first time when the law firm sends it’s review letter.

 

Back to top

When does the closing occur?

Your contract contains an estimated closing date. This date is only an estimate. The date of the actual closing must be coordinated between you lender and the seller and seller’s attorney. After you receive an unconditional mortgage commitment, the law firm will submit to your lender’s review attorney; a title insurance binder, approved attorney letter from the title company, survey, and hazard insurance policy and paid receipt for one year, and any other items that are required by your lender. The review attorney generally has 5 days to review the items submitted. The review attorney often will require additional endorsements from the title insurance company. Only after the review attorney approve can a closing date be scheduled, provided the availability of the seller.

 

 Back to top

How do I pay for everything at the closing?

At the time of closing, everyone is paid out of the buyer attorney’s trust account. You must therefore bring with you at the time of closing either certified or bank checks, so that the funds clear immediately. The law firm cannot give you an exact figure of funds required until your lender advises all their fees and costs, including the amount of prepaid items and escrows. Often these figures are available by fax from your lender the day before the scheduled closing. If they are, the law firm will be able to advise you the day before the exact amount you need to close. If they are not you may be required to estimate, and bring with surplus funds. Any funds in excess of those required will be returned to you by way of an attorney trust account check 

 

Back to top

What warranties do I get?

Generally no warranties survive the closing date. The only defects that a buyer can complain about after the closing are for defects that the buyer can prove were known and hidden defects. Therefore is it very important that you inspect the premises just prior to the closing and advise the law firm of any new defects, which were not present at the time of the home inspection. This of course excludes normal wear and tear.

 

Back to top

What happens after the closing?

After the closing, the Law Firm will send your original deed and mortgage to the register of deeds. After it is recorded, the law firm will forward the deed to you. This usually takes approximately one month before you will receive the recorded deed. You should place the deed in a safe place, together with a copy of your survey. A copy of the RESPA statement should be reserved to be given to you tax specialist when it is time to file your income tax return. Soon after you receive the deed, you should be receiving from the law firm your title insurance policy. This should be stored along with the deed. If you decide to refinance within a couple of years of the closing, you might be able to reuse the survey and receive a re-issue rate on your title insurance. Lastly, after the closing you must switch all the utilities; gas electric, and water into your name as the new owner.

 

Back to top

What happens at the closing? 

You will be asked to report to your attorney’s office approximately 1 hour prior to the arrival of the seller and the seller’s attorney. This is to insure you have time to review and sign all the mortgage documents. Although your attorney will review all the mortgage documents with at the time of closing, these documents and their content are not negotiable. If the documents are not signed as they appear, your attorney is not authorized by your lender to disperse the mortgage proceeds. After the mortgage documents are fully executed, the closing with the seller will begin. The document that explains all the financial transaction between the buyer, lender and the seller is called the “RESPA”. This stands for the real estate settlement procedures act. The Buyers attorney prepares this document. Your lender instructs your attorney what charges you will pay to the lender, and what charges you must prepay. The “RESPA” will also reflect the items that must be paid out of the seller’s proceeds (mortgage payoff, realtor fees, seller’s attorney’s fees, taxes etc.). Your attorney will also input the charges due to the seller. This document will usually be prepared before the closing and faxed to the seller’s attorney for the seller’s attorney’s review and approval. Additionally, the seller’s attorney will usually fax to the buyers attorney the proposed deed and affidavit of title for the buyer’s attorney’s review and approval.

Back to top

 

These questions and answers are meant to assist you in your real estate transaction. If you have any further questions feel free to E-mail your question to geraldkeegan@optonline.net
or telephone (973) 256-3700.


Back | NJLhome | Passaic County